Monday, April 28, 2014

Kenya: Two to Be Charged With Murder After Kenyan FGM Victim Dies

Two guardians and a circumciser will be charged with murder in a landmark case in Kenya after a Maasai girl bled to death following Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Rehema Lesale, 13, died on April 14 after undergoing FGM in a remote part of Kajiado County, south of the capital, Nairobi. Her body was found lying in a pool of blood at her homestead and her grave had already been dug.
"We are in court today. The guardians are going to be charged with murder," Christine Nanjala, head of Kenya's one-month-old anti-FGM prosecution unit, told Thomson Reuters Foundation on the phone from Kajiado on Wednesday.
"We are transferring the case to our office in Machakos [High Court] because the court in Kajiado does not have jurisdiction to do any murder trials."
Lesale was living with her guardians, who were her sister and her brother-in-law.
"The circumciser who did it is still at large," said Nanjala. "She's still being looked for. Hopefully we will get her soon."
Dusty, sprawling Kajiado County, which sits between Nairobi and the Tanzanian border, is the traditional homeland of Kenya's Maasai community. Some 73 percent of Maasai women and girls are circumcised, according to government statistics.
FGM or female circumcision involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia. It can cause haemorrhage, shock, complications in childbirth, fistula and severe pain during sexual intercourse. It can also lead to depression and anxiety.
Around 27 percent of Kenyan women and girls have been circumcised, with the highest rates among the Somali, Kisii and Maasai communities.
FGM is usually carried out during school holidays. Afterwards, the girls are regarded as women and are usually taken out of school, married and become mothers.
Kenya stepped up its fight against FGM by creating the anti-FGM Board in December, headed by Linah Kilimo, a prominent campaigner against the practice. Kilimo, a former member of parliament, ran away from FGM as a child and lobbied for parliament to pass the 2011Prohibition of FGM Act.

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